WILSON, NC (Colleen Quigley/WNCN) - Days after their dog ran away, a Wilson County family was surprised the pet had not only been taken into custody in the animal shelter, but was already adopted out.
Jonathan Fulghum and his puppy have been reunited but he wanted to share his story in hopes it doesn't happen to another family.
Fulghum says 4-month-old lab mix, Wesley, is the perfect addition his family, especially with his older dog Lee.
"I reckon they are best friends. I didn't want them to get separated," he said.
Fulghum was heartbroken when Wesley ran off sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Fulghum spent the weekend looking for the dog and was relieved when he saw a post on the "Lost and Found Dogs of Wilson, NC" Facebook page.
"They had nicknamed him Juju, and he was available for adoption," said Fulghum.
The Facebook page is not operated by the Wilson County Animal Shelter, but it shares information about dogs the shelter has.
A photo and description of Wesley was posted on Monday at 4:49 p.m., saying "Juju" would be available for adoption Tuesday at 1:50 p.m.
When Fulghum went to the shelter Tuesday he was told it was too late.
"I went up there and they told me they had just adopted him out. It was like a dagger pretty much. I just lost my dog," Fulghum said.
An ordinance titled "Redemption by owner," posted on the Wilson County Government website reads a pet owner "may redeem the animal and regain possession thereof within 72 working hours after notice of impoundment is posted."
According to a second ordinance titled "Notice to owner," once the animal is impounded "notice of such impoundment shall be posted for a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours, beginning with the time the animal enters the animal shelter."
In an email a spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office, which oversees the shelter, said, "the Fulghum dog was held at the shelter for 73 hours before it was eligible for adoption."
The email went on to say "once the Fulghums made contact with the animal shelter (after 72 hours) and showed proof of ownership, we made contact with the adoptive owners who were gracious enough to return Wesley."
Fulghum says the shelter called him Thursday saying he could pick up the dog. He says he's grateful to have Wesley and feels badly for the other family.
The Wilson County Sheriff's Office says if a pet goes missing, the first thing an owner should do is call the shelter and law enforcement. They also recommend getting your animal micro-chipped.